I don't have a lot of flowery introductory BS this week, thanks to a sick kid. The third episode of season three, "Walk of Punishment," sets the table for some big doings and transpirings in the coming weeks. Daenerys is finally about to get her hands on an army, while others have lost their hands entirely.
Locations Highlighted in the Opening Titles (* = new): King's Landing, Harrenhal, Riverrun*, Winterfell, The Wall, Astapor
Ser(s) Not Appearing in This Episode: Joffrey, Margaery, Davos, Bran, Rickon, Hodor, Osha.
Our first, and last, glimpse of Lord Hoster Tully comes as he's loaded into a boat. Also our first look at Cateyn's brother Edmure (Tobias Menzies), not so handy with a bow, and her uncle Brynden -- "The Blackfish" (Clive Russell) -- who makes sure his brother gets a proper flaming send-off. More to the point, Robb (Richard Madden) is displeased with Edmure's tactics, which failed to lure the Mountain onto a killing ground. He knows Tywin Lannister is playing the long game and has the men to do so.
Speaking of the devil, the new Hand of the King holds his first meeting of the Small Council (including this season's first sightings of Varys and Grand Maester Pycelle). In addition to fretting about son Jaime's whereabouts, Tywin (Charles Dance) approves of Littlefinger's plan to wed Lysa Arryn, making him de facto Lord of the Vale. In his absence, Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) is appointed Master of Coin, a summarily shitty position, if Cersei and Pycelle's smug expressions are any indication.
On the road, Jaime (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) gives what he probably feels is sound advice to Brienne (Gwendoline Christie) regarding her position. Namely, not to fight when their captors come to rape her. It's what passes for pleasant conversation from the Kingslayer, who nonetheless shows some concern for his former captor. More on that later.
Elsewhere on the road, Arya (Maisie Williams) and Gendry (Joe Dempsie) take their leave of Hot Pie, who's elected to stay and cook for at a roadside inn (the same one where the Hound killed Arya's friend, the butcher's boy), while they accompany Thoros and the Brotherhood as they take a captive Hound to Robb. He even bakes a wolf-shaped loaf of bread for Arya, who gives the dude what may be the only compliment he's had in three seasons when she praises his cooking.
The Blackfish tells Catelyn (Michelle Fairley) to stay strong, both for her own good and for Robb's, while Talisa (Oona Chaplin) tends to the Lannister kids Edmure captured. Sweet.
North of the Wall -- and really, why are we still seeing the Wall in the opening credits? There hasn't been a scene at Castle Black in months -- anyway, Mance (Ciarán Hinds), Jon Snow (Kit Harington) and company find enough horse heads at the Fist of the First Men to give Jack Wolz a heart attack. And all arranged in a pretty pattern as well. Mance sends Tormund "Giantsbane" (he must plant a mean beanstalk) ahead with Jon with a plan to scale the Wall and hit Castle Black from the rear. Meanwhile, the remnants of the Watch return to Craster's Keep. He offers somewhat less than the usual hospitality, prompting Sam (John Bradley) to seek out the source of some womanly screams. Oh hey, it's Gilly giving birth. To a boy. That's...unfortunate.
Theon (Alfie Allen) is freed by his mysterious benefactor and rides off into the night, which becomes day, complete with armed pursuers. They run him down and are about to give him the medieval equivalent of the "rear admiral" when a mysterious benefactor shows up again and saves the day. He sure went from slop boy to badass longbowman in a hurry.
Stannis (Stephen Dillane) is playing the jealous King as Melisandre (Carice van Houten) leaves for parts unknown. She has the same reaction as any woman confronted with a needy, blubbering man: a sneer. She also tells him the Lord of Light demands sacrifices from his bloodline, since his fires "burn too low" to make another Shadow Baby.
In Astapor, Jorah (Iain Glen) and Barristan (Ian McElhinney) disagree about the virtues of slave soldiers, but in the end Daenerys (Emilia Clarke) decides she wants to buy all the Unsullied. Unfortunately, she's a little light in the wallet when it comes to buying 8,000 slave warriors, so she offers a dragon. Jorah and Barristan are understandably alarmed, but she seems to be working an angle, down to claiming Kraznys's interpreter Missandei for her own and asking her some pointed questions about where the Unsullied's loyalties lie.
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Pod gets quite the reward from Tyrion for saving the Imp's life. Tyrion, on the other hand, gets the shaft in taking over as Master of Coin from Littlefinger (Aiden Gillen), discovering the Crown is in debt to something called the Iron Bank of Braavos for tens of millions of gold doubloons, or whatever, and that failure to repay the debt could have dire consequences.
Jaime does the honorable thing, saving Brienne from her assailants by telling Locke (I had to look his name up) she'll be "worth her weight in sapphires" to her father if she's delivered to him alive with "her honor unbesmirched." It works, to a point, saving Brienne's virtue, but not Jaime's right hand. As if his sword skills weren't rusty enough.
Stuff That Will Piss Off Book Purists: Theon's fate was much more ambiguous during this period in the books; Stannis wasn't so...needy; Tyrion didn't buy Podrick a threesome, much less one that returned his money; Locke is apparently the Tv version of Vargo Hoat, but the "Bloody Mummers" were in the employ of the Lannisters, not the Boltons (ostensibly Stark bannermen); I don't recall the Celtic punk version of "The Bear and the Maiden Fair."
Next week: Daenerys makes a hard bargain, Theon keeps looking for his sister, Cersei and Lady Olenna don't see eye to eye, and the Watch appears to have worn out their welcome at Craster's.